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Panasonic's 3D TV First Impressions

However, even on a 65in TV screen viewed from about eight feet away, everyone present agreed that the immersive effect wasn't quite there. Now, we were viewing the screen in a lit room with multiple distractions around us so it wasn't the best of environments but even then the key seemed to be that the screen simply wasn't big enough. For the 3D effect to remain convincing the image needs to almost completely fill your vision and I think you'd have to sit six feet away from this TV to get the same fill of your vision as at a good cinema, which simply isn't practical for many people. Later we were ushered into a properly darkened viewing room where there was a 152in 4k resolution 3D screen demoing and here the effect was rather more impressive, thus confirming our thoughts. All told, then, we reckon you'll want a dedicated cinema room with blacked out or very dark walls behind the TV, and a correctly positioned sofa, to take advantage of 3D – a half baked setup simply won't cut it.

While 3D on even a 65in TV still didn't completely convince us, 152in was a whole other ball game.

Also, there's a major question over how much worthwhile content will be available in the near future. While various deals are being penned to provide 3D sport and there will no doubt be 3D games, from the evidence of the footage we saw, 3D added surprisingly little to sport and was a bit of a strain to watch. As for gaming, if Avatar: The Game is anything to go by, you can again colour us unenthusiastic.

All that said one of the advantages of this type of 3D tech is that, once you turn the 3D mode off it's just a normal, and indeed top of the range, plasma TV. Indeed these TVs take advantage of Panasonic's cooperation with Pioneer and use similar tech to that which made the Pioneer Kuro range so revered. Somewhat annoyingly, Panasonic was hammering home so hard the 3D message that little was actually said about the precise tweaks and changes that have been implemented though a few details did emerge.

One improvement is a completely new filter that replaces the toughened glass filter used on previous Panasonic TVs. The new filter, while less able to resist hammer blows, eliminates distracting internal reflections (as there are fewer layers of glass) and incorporates a horizontal light filter that absorbs ambient light, helping to make the surface of the panel look truly black rather than grey. New phosphors, discharge gases, and a redesigned cell structure also help things along but again details were thin. Suffice to say, though, that these are exceptional TVs that could well prove to be the new gold standard, even surpassing the Kuro range. Incidentally, the new V20 range, available in 50- (TX-P50V20B) and 42in (TX-P42V20B) versions also includes all the same tech as the VT20 range, just without the 3D capabilities.

Further to the core panel improvements the VT20 and V20 ranges, along with much of the rest of the new Panasonic range have SD card and USB slots for playing back media files. Panasonic's Viera Cast Internet streaming services also make a return, via an Ethernet port or compatible USB Wi-Fi dongles, and there are new content partners. So along with being able to view videos on YouTube, photos on Picasa, and read tweets on Twitter, you can now stream movies through the Ace Trax service, music videos from QTom, and watch videos from Dailymotion. The Ace Trax service lets you buy or rent films and you'll get a downloadable copy for your PC as well. Prices start at £0.79 to rent and £2.99 to buy but judging by the recent Star Trek movie demanding £2.99 to rent and £10.99 to buy and the fact that all the content is SD, it may not be something too many of you will use regularly.

Nevertheless, there's a lot to be excited about with these new TVs and we can't wait to give them a proper review in a controlled environment. Whether they will manage to convince us that 3D really has a place in the home is another matter though.

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